When: Monday, March 16th 2009
What: Austin Trailer Park and Eatery
What I Had: At Torchy's Tacos: Chips and Green Chili Queso: green chili queso topped with guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro and Diablo Sauce, the Mr. Pink: a taco with a guajillo seared ahi tuna, slaw, cilantro, and Torchy's signature diablo sauce, Little Nookie's: deep fried chocolate chip cookies.
At Shuggie's : The Yard Bird: a chicken breast sandwich battered in Lay's potato chips, topped with jack cheese, green chili mayo, pickle, lettuce, and tomato all served on a cracked pepper butter bun.
The Austin Trailer Park and Eatery has quickly risen to the top of Austin's local culinary scene. Just like all the other airstream, mobile vans, and taco trucks the Trailer Park and Eatery capitalizes on Austin's love of all things that can serve food from a variety of locations. The ironic thing is that The Trailer Park and Eatery is actually a somewhat brick and mortar location, in as much as the trailers that serve food here don't actually ever relocate.
Since Claire and I were down south picking up our new Mazda 3 from getting the tags put on we decided we would try out this Austin locale that has been getting such big hype amongst our locale Austinites. My first impression was that parking is horrible! In fact later on we got to chat with one of the owners of the park and he said the main reason they wouldn't be adding any more vendors was the lack of parking. After having eaten at the park I can understand this and honestly what they offer now is plenty of variety. They don't need to expand.
After parking we perused the menus for both Shuggie's and Torchy's and decided on our meal for the day. I got in line for Shuggie's which was actually a non-existent line. I ordered the Yard Bird. I then joined Claire in the line for Torchy's which probably took us another 12 or so minutes to get through. They didn't have the fastest service around. In fact they were slow enough that I had the Yard Bird in hand before we had finished ordering at Torchy's. However, it was a beautiful day and we were there to enjoy it so we didn't let the wait time ruin the afternoon. In fact once we ordered our food came out promptly.
We picked a table to share with some SXSW festive goers. The neat thing about the whole setup at the park is that if they are busy you are forced to join some strangers at a picnic table due to lack of places to sit. Claire and I liked this idea but I could see this being a deterrent to some of you more shy diners. Anyways we chowed down pretty quickly on our Yard Bird. After enjoying the perfect crunchy batter, the moist and tender chicken, and the subtle spice of the pepper jack and green chili mayo I couldn't understand why the line was so much longer at Torchy's. I don't know of many chicken sandwiches which were more satisfying than the one Shuggie's provided me that day. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
At this point we knew we had ordered too much food. We couldn't let perfectly good queso go to waste. Claire's comment on Torchy's queso was that it ranks right up there with Mag-Mud from Magnolia Cafe. I think I agree with that.
The creaminess of the guacamole and the queso fresco mixed perfectly with the spicy green chili cheese. The queso and the yard bird would have been a great meal and a filling one on it's own. However, as so often happens with us Patricks, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. So our taco came out and we couldn't let it go to waste either. The tuna was slightly overcooked and a bit dry. So I quickly threw on a slathering of the Diablo sauce that Torchy's is famous for. It adds a bit of a kick but I love me a spicy taco. I wouldn't necessarily rave about this taco but it was good. If the tuna had been cooked a little better it would have been excellent.
Like I said earlier we joined some SXSW'ers and they offered us a couple of their Little Nookie's. I was so full at this point I could have died happy, but if anything is my weakness it is dessert. Dessert that was fried would probably kill me, but I said what the heck, it's a fried Chocolate Chip Cookie. In reality it was a fried dough ball. My first thought was, Holy Cow that is gonna be rich and over-indulgent. What Torchy's did right was use a batter that isn't sweet. This allowed the gooey insides of soft chocolate chip cookie dough to really stand out. It was a bit rich and one of these things was plenty (a order comes with 4) but it capped off a delicious outdoor meal.
The Trailer Park and Eatery is definitely a unique Austin experience. I would probably visit Shuggies once a week if I lived closer. The Yard Bird was that good. Torchy's I honestly could go either way but the whole experience is what really makes the park shine and stand out. The unique vibe and experience is gives the whole concept the hype it deserves. I would love to go back at night sometime when the fire pits are going and sample some of the smores from Lah-dee Dah. The other great thing is that the owners are out there talking, hanging out, and getting comments and critiques from their customers. They have got what it takes to continue to be a local attraction and a tourist stop. It's a place locals and tourists can equally appreciate for different reasons.
Austin Trailer Park & Eatery: excellent setting and concept, poor parking, friendly service, and great choices 9/10
Torchy's Tacos: slow ordering, average tacos, excellent sauce, Top 5 quesos in Austin. If it weren't for the fact that they were a "Taco" stand they would get a higher rating, but there tacos just didn't impress me. 7/10
Shuggie's: friendly service, unique sandwich choices, one of the best chicken sandwiches I've ever had: 9/10